Someone once said that experience is the best teacher. Another said that experience is the only teacher. If you believe that experience can make for a better bowling center, then you're in luck.
At Bel Air Bowl Inc., experience is one thing that is in abundance.
On Sept. 22, 1990, Pres Coale and his wife, Mary, celebrated 30 years of ownership of the bowling center, located on U.S. 1, just south of the Harford Mall.
That's right, 30 years. That's half a lifetime. That's experience. For 30 years the 40-lane bowling center has been serving people of Harford County.
You only have to meet Pres and his charming wife once to know that these nice folks mean it when they tell you all they want to run is a family business where anyone can walk in and enjoy themselves.
Since the proof of the pudding is in the eating, just stop in on Thursday nights and watch the whole Coale clan bowling together in the No-Name league. You'll find Pres, Mary, daughter Jean and son-in-law Bill Burnham. I didn't ask, but I wouldn't be surprised if son, Jim, or daughter Joyce Westervelt didn't sub in that league.
While the Coales want you to have fun and enjoy your bowling, they also want to have a fair scoring house.
"I like a long oil center," Pres Coale said, "That condition puts a lot of the skill back into the game. I think it's up to the proprietors to keep the integrity in the game."
Johnny Petraglia, an excellent professional bowler who was on hand to help with the 30-year celebration, said, "You won't see scores go any higher than they are right now. They may even decline in the very near future," he said.
Well, if conditions become more difficult you may want to try to overcome them with new equipment. You won't have to go far.
Marty's ProShop is located in the Bel Air bowling center and you can purchase your new bowling ball, have it drilled, take it out on the lanes to try it out, step back into the pro shop to have it fine-tuned and bowl it in your league that same night. What could be easier?
Like to have your kids learn the game of bowling? Nothing easier. Ginny Courtney, who has 20 years experience coaching youngsters, is available every Saturday morning.
This lady carries a 189 average, has a high games of 267 with a high set of 657. She bowls in the Bauguess Ladies league on Tuesday nights, the Sunday Night Mixed league, and is in a ABT tournament almost every weekend.
To boot, she is a certified instructor for the Young America Bowling Alliance.
Every Saturday from 9:30 a.m. until about noon you can find Ginny teaching the finer points of bowling and lane courtesy to anywhere from 130 to 150 young people ranging in age from 3 to high school.
We keep coming back to experience, don't we?
Jane Newman, program coordinator, has little experience -- the Fallston resident has been bowling for 54 years and has been associated with Bel Air Bowl for more than 20 years. And she carries a 158 average.
Not enough experience for you?
OK, how about the manager, Nick Barlow? He started out a the snack bar, went on to become a mechanic and now he manages the centers. Nick has been here about 20 years, too.
Did I mention that on the Bel Air Bowl letterhead there's a motto?
Thought not. It says, very simply: Bowling -- A Family Sport.
As a family would give to those less well off than some of its members, so do the family at Bel Air Bowl give. Within each league prior to Thanksgiving week there will be a turkey shoot. It costs $1 to take a chance to win a turkey. All of the money raised by the turkey shoot will be donated to the Needy Neighbor program in the county.